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WBNS-10TV Columbus, Ohio | Columbus News, Weather & Sports |

Internet predator complaints spike as virtual learning ramps up

The Franklin County Sheriff’s Office Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force says it is responding to about a 30% increase in complaints.

The Franklin County Sheriff’s Office Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force (ICAC) says it is responding to about a 30% increase in complaints.

Sgt. Jeff Zech who works undercover says the social media apps on your child’s devices can easily pair them up with strangers based on contacts or location.

“That’s how a lot of these guys being their communication. “'Hi, my name is X-Y-Z' and that’s how things can start,” Sgt. Zech said in a video posted to the sheriff’s Facebook page.  

Studies show kids who learn remotely this fall semester will spend an average of 13 hours on their digital devices a day, whether that’s a laptop, an iPad or a cell phone.  

Sgt. Zech says kids need to understand that the danger is real whenever they post information or a photo.

“They need to understand that the decisions they make such as posting something, saying something or sending a picture out to someone they can text can affect them for the rest of their lives,” he said.

ICAC investigators say parents should go beyond just “friending” their kids on social media.  

Instead, parents need to log onto their child’s profile as if they were them so they can see what the kids are seeing from their perspective.

RELATED: Some apps could have a potential hidden danger for your kids